It's not too often that I get to see a play more than once, produced by different groups. However, the fall play at the Ramsdell Theater in Manistee was Deathtrap. I saw this just two years ago at the Howmet in Whitehall, so I knew what to expect.
First of all, I really loved the set. It's very open and constantly reminds you that you are watching a play. That's totally in keeping with the play itself, which is a wonderful poke in the ribs to the theater and the life of a playwright.
Three of the five cast members were experienced actors, and they, of course, set the tone for the quality. The other two rose to their level, and therefore the acting was excellent.
Here, the man in the middle is famous playwright Sidney Bluhm. He's had past success writing thrillers, but is currently in a slump. His study walls are decorated with the many (handy) weapons used in his previous plays.
He has invited a young admirer (on the right) to his home for the evening. The younger man has written what is destined to be a smash hit of a play. Sid has plans to do away with Clifford and steal the script. Sid's wife (left) is alternately horrified by the idea and intrigued that it could solve their money problems.
Of course, it's dangerous to plot evil at any time, but especially foolhardy when there is a psychic living next door. She feels "great pain" in the room!
Murder is done, and Act I ends. But what about Act II? I won't give it away, but the lawyer and the psychic seem to be celebrating. Don't count on believing what you see, however!
The set, the props, the costumes, and the acting were superb. It was the first time the director had taken on that role, and I think she did a great job. My only "complaint" is that the timing dragged just a bit. That could have just been true of this one performance. I think the audience would have laughed more if it had been a little snappier.
This is a play that is both a dark thriller and hilarious. The plot is filled with murder, but you are continually reminded that it's only a story, which lightens the tone.
The Manistee Civic Players have done themselves proud once again. Every so often there is a production that is more typical of small town theater, but for the most part you can count on better than average experiences.
Have about 90% decided to go for a release date for Dead Mule Swamp Druggist around Christmas. I've got three good Beta readers lined up. I did a little editing and wrote about a hundred words. This is not enough. I have about one more day to make up my mind to push for this, because I have to really buckle down to make it happen. Stay tuned.
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